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March 2021

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal – the scientifically selected Arsenal line up.

By Tony Attwood

When the transfer doorway creaked closed once again we published a table of the players in the 25 and the leading youth players who could also play.

In the old days this was irrelevant with league cup matches when groups of youngsters some of us had hardly heard of appeared on the scene and beat Sheffield United 6-0 each time (or so it seemed).

Now however the 25 is full, and some of these players are not getting games, so it is possible to take a look at the 25 and the under 21s who train with the first team and select quite a lot of tonight’s team from that list.

I’ve noted whether the player is injured or not and in the final column of the 25 list, and simply based on performances thus far given him a chance rating of playing tonight, out of ten.  Totally arbitrary of course but we’ve never picked a team like this before so I thought it was worth a try.  Appearances include League and Champs League.

  Player Position Appearances Injury Chances
1 Kieran Gibbs LB 0+1   10
2 Aaron Ramsey Mid 1 Injured 0
3 Theo Walcott Forward 5   0
4 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Mid 4+1   5
5 Danny Welbeck Forward 0 Injured  
6 Carl Jenkinson RB 0 Injured  
7 Emiliano Martinez GK 0   Sub
8 Francis Coquelin DM 5   0
9 Matt Macey GK 0   3
10 Mathieu Debuchy RB 0   10
11 Per Mertesacker CB 0 Injured  
12 Gabriel CB 0 Recovered 8
13 Laurent Koscielny CB 5   0
14 Alexis Sanchez Forward 4   0
15 Mesut Özil Mid 4+1   0
16 Olivier Giroud Forward 0+3 Injured 0
17 David Ospina GK 1   10
18 Nacho Monreal LB 6   0
19 Santi Cazorla Mid 5+1   0
20 Yaya Sanogo Forward 0 Unknown Unknown
21 Granit Xhaka CM 2+3   0
22 Petr Cech GK 5   0
23 Mohamed Elneny Mid 1+3   8
24 Shkodran Mustafi CB 3   0
25 Lucas Pérez Forward 1+1   8

Now onto the U21 players are included in our First Team Squad

Player Position Appearances Injury Chances
Rob Holding CB 3   10
Alex Iwobi Forward/MF 3+1   0
Hector Bellerin RB 6   0
Chuba Akpom Forward 0   10
Jeff Reine-Adelaide Forward 0   10

Now these tables have been put together without actually contemplating a team for tonight and if you have been following me thus far you will notice that we might well be overloaded in one or two places.  But et’s see how the team goes.

Amazingly it actually gives us pretty much of a team looking something like this…


Debuchy  Holding Gabriel Gibbs

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Elneny The Ox


Akpom  Perez  Aledlaide

If we need someone else in defence Bielik is the most likely player to come in, and if Gideon Zelalem has miraculously regained his form he could be drafted into midfield to replace our question mark man.   Chris Willock has looked so good to me when I have seen him playing last season for the under 21s and this season on TV in preliminary games I feel he ought to have a place.

His natural place is out wide where I have put Akpom because I ran out of places for him.   However I have seen it suggested by Reine Adelaide could play where the ??? (I am not sure if that is right or not)  which would make the team look like this


Debuchy  Holding Gabriel Gibbs

Elneny The Ox


Perez  Akpom Willock

and finally we have a line up that makes some kind of sense, in that Perez has played on the wing before.

The big chitchat among the mindless journos is that “Arsène Wenger believes Nicklas Bendtner has a point to prove at Nottingham Forest as the former Arsenal striker faces his old club on Tuesday in the third round of the EFL Cup,” a sentence that you can read in virtually every newspaper column on the subject.

Old Nic scored 45 goals in 171 appearances for Arsenal.

Here’s his record thus far

Seasons Team Games Goals Ratio
2005–2014 Arsenal 108 24 0.22
2006–2007 Birmingham City (loan) 42 11 0.26
2011–2012 Sunderland (loan) 28 8 0.28
2012–2013 Juventus (loan) 9 0 0.00
2014–2016 VfL Wolfsburg 31 3 0.09
2016– Nottingham Forest 2 0 0.00

What is noticeable is that while his goal to game ratio was never that good it was growing slowly but surely until the move to Juventus, and since then it has all gone wrong for Old Nic.

His contract with Wolfsburg was terminated in April this year and he came to Forest on a free transfer.   Of him Mr Wenger said, “Of course he has a point to prove – he’s playing at a level where he is not used to.   But he did start his career at this level at Birmingham City with Steve Bruce, where he did very well. Nicklas is focused enough to show he can fight again.

“It was a surprise to me that Nicklas signed for Nottingham Forest, but at some stage Nicklas needs to restart his career.

“You have to adapt and we are in a job when we have to show we are able to put our effort in everywhere and compete. Sometimes when you are a player of his quality, you just need an opportunity. We know his qualities and he is a top quality player, but he needs to play.

“The perceptions people have of him is that he is overconfident but I don’t think so,” he said. “He was sometimes impatient when he was with us. He was disappointed not to get the chance and you can understand that.

“I am not here to judge people. Sometimes you manage to get it and sometimes we do not find the key. Then you have to leave the key to someone else who has the potential to find it. Nicklas could explain much better than I can about his career.”

But of course everyone has a Bendtner story.  My favourite is that he had Jacques Crevoisier Arsenal’s psychologist in tears of laughter on doing his test on “self-perceived competence.”  Crevoisier’s story is that on the scale of 0 to 9 Bendtner scored ten.

Well, don’t we all, on a good day.


Recent Posts

Arsenal anniversaries appear on the home page of Untold each day, and you can look up all of the 5000 anniversaries in our files through the Day by Day index on the Arsenal History Society site.  Today’s selected anniversary of the day is below – just one of a dozen or so that we pick each day of  the year.

20 September 2002:  Arsène Wenger pronounced that, “Arsenal can go unbeaten all season” to huge derision from media.  “It’s not impossible as Milan once did it but I can’t see why it’s so shocking to say it. Do you think Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea don’t dream that as well? They’re exactly the same. They just don’t say it because they’re scared to look ridiculous, but nobody is ridiculous in this job as we know anything can happen.”

14 comments to Nottingham Forest v Arsenal – the scientifically selected Arsenal line up.

  • Pat

    Arsene Wenger’s words about Nicklas Bendtner brought a tear to my eye. Very wise words. I always had a soft spot for Nicklas. I remember him and Carlos Moya scoring loads of goals against Burgenland ( which I don’t think is an actual team but was put together for the occasion) in a pre season match. Very enjoyable! I was also pleased he stood up to Adebayor, who was similarly arrogant but less likeable.

  • doc

    Zelalem could also be in the frame.

  • Robert

    You’ll find a Wenger interview somewhere on where he says Sanogo is injured. That info is also on Jeorge Bird’s website, a reliable source for such info.

    The same sources have recently said that Debuchy and Gibbs were injured, so tonight’s lineup will provide more info there.

    Although Matt Macey is in the PL Squad of 25, he is not in the First Team on, so I presume he’s been retained purely for the U23 squad.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Mackey and Zelalem were not in the U23 team yesterday. I would expect them to have some part today

  • Alex

    What happen to Sanogo ?
    Maybe i am one of the few believer but still Yahya Sanogo is good as anyone that we have in squad.

    No one gave him time to prove himself while the likes of Walkot and the Ox for that matter have plenty of opportunity.Yes they had plenty of opportunity but not enough return.

    I do like Sanogo his presence on the opposition box.Remember Bayern game …yeah he is handfull inside the box.Of course his first touch is no where near the arsenal way by the same token Adebayor was.Would love to see him regularly or at least in this cup games.

    But everyone seem to write him off.

  • Polo

    Off-topic: I would like to congratulate our greatest manager Arsene Wenger on his 20 marvelous years at Arsenal, long may his reign continue. ‘There’s only one Arsene Wenger’!!!

  • Jambug


    Here here to that.

  • Polo

    @ Jambug, 20 years how time flies? Could remember it was yesterday.

  • Paul Ogbu

    Off topic: I was really amused when one of the analysts on Monday night football was trying very hard(even if not openly) to convince us that Mr Maureen criticizing his players in public makes him a tactical genius. Le Prof would have been called many unprintable names if he tried it. I believe that all those writing negative things about The Arsenal(including so called Arsenal fans) will be put to shame this season.

  • Polo

    Happy 21st Birthday Rob Holding.

  • OlegYch

    ox in the center sounds like a very bad idea to me
    xhaka might start there though, seeing how he doesn’t get much time otherwise

  • GoingGoingGooner

    After so many frustrating Arsenal false dawns with Lord Bendtner, I have a soft spot for him (albeit now that he is with another club). I’d like to see him do well (not against us, mind). In some respects, his absolute self belief could be a positive thing on a team because it eliminates the emotional highs and low and as long as it is coupled with a desire to improve.

  • OlegYch

    xhaka starts
    no debuchy in the squad…